Kremlin urged to freeze payments from ‘foreign agents’ such as US state media outlets over claims they fund info war in Russia
News outlets and campaign groups that get cash from overseas could be prevented from spending money in Russia under proposals put forward by an influential Moscow think tank.
RT obtained a copy of the proposal, addressed to Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev on Wednesday. Developed by Anton Orlov, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Politics, the draft regulations would effectively ban groups that are registered as “foreign agents” from making financial payments to individuals.
Orlov claims in his statement that one such organization has been demonstrated to have “organized unauthorized street political actions in Russian cities.” He added: “At the same time, representatives of the organization disseminated information on social networks and in the media that they were ready to pay the fines of citizens received as a result of committing offenses at these events.”
It is unclear how this would affect the ability of these groups to pay their staff in Russia.
A number of organizations have been labeled as foreign agents under government rules, because they receive significant proportions of their funding from abroad, predominately from Western governments. Among them are US state-run media outlets Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as the opposition-leaning Moscow-based Levada Center.
In March last year, President Vladimir Putin defended the law, comparing it to equivalent measures in the US and arguing that it “exists simply to protect Russia from external meddling in its politics.”
“Nobody’s rights are being infringed on here whatsoever. There is nothing that runs counter to international practice,” he added.
One of the country’s most senior parliamentarians, Senator Andrey Klimov, told Rossiya-1 news channel on Sunday that the street protests organized in support of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny last weekend had been orchestrated from outside the country. “The Senatorial Commission has reason to believe that all these activities are clearly traced to the actions of foreign states, and it is all happening with the assistance of foreign specialists,” he told the broadcaster.
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